Four discoveries from a 30 day run streak

This morning I completed my 30 day run streak and during this time I made some discoveries about my running. Here they are…..

  1. Aerobic training is beneficial

At the start of the run streak I decided that all my running in these 30 days would be aerobic and I would forget about pace. On the whole I was able to manage this only running twice outside my aerobic capacity. This was a parkrun effort and last weeks goal race pace half marathon run.

Running purely aerobically for the majority of the 30 days has seen me develop my aerobic capacity. Running aerobically often is easy on the body and recovery is simple, when you run within your limits there is no soreness the next day and you are able to run more. Following this when I did increase the intensity and complete a tougher workout, my half marathon felt very comfortable. Building the aerobic engine is very beneficial for running performance.

The take away from this discovery is that during my next focussed training block I will have more aerobic training to compliment the focussed harder workouts.

   2. Technology is unnecessary (almost)

Another goal of this run streak was to divorce pace and use perceived effort to measure my run rather achieve a pace for the run. This has been a successful discovery where I am now unconcerned by the pace my watch is saying and rather the feeling my body gives me from the effort I output.

During each of the runs I have only looked at the time for the run on the watch and not pace. This has taught me to focus on my feeling and breathing to stay aerobic and run consistent pace through effort. During the harder half marathon effort the same applied and I was impressed by the consistent pace I was able to achieve.

The future of my running will feature less reliance on technology, I am committed to continuing to monitor my running by feel and use the data to analyse post run.

3. Running everyday is good for you

While I am normally an advocate for rest days, life balance and letting the body recover from runs I found the task of running everyday good for me. All my runs are completed in the early mornings and the simple task of committing to getting up each morning and going through the process to get out the door and run was mostly pretty easy.

During the 30 day streak I had wet weather on 5-6 of my runs, only one of these days did I consider not running through the rain, however this doubt lasted about 15 minutes before I decided to get the job done.

I enjoyed the day to day commitment of getting out the door to complete my run. Committing to a run streak is a way to challenge you to overcome a small challenge everyday and start the day ready to tackle something bigger if it arises.

4. Minimal footwear is better

This may have not been a discovery but more a reinforcement. Every run I did with the exception of one run were completed in zero drop footwear. these specifically were Gladsoles sandals both the trail 8mm and new 6mm and Carson Footwear Iguana Racers.

If you are fully transitioned to barefoot running then minimal footwear is better for your running. After 4-5 days of the run streak I had a slight pain in my right calf that was evident for a few runs, this went away by itself and I was able to run without pain for the  all the other runs. Minimal footwear keeps you aware, your feet stronger and running with better technique. To run injury free for long periods of time these are important. Without trying to jinx myself to an injury I believe the benefits of transitioning to minimal shoes will help me run longer into my life.

Don’t be scared to make a change to your footwear if you are on a path of consistent injuries. It will take time but it will be worth it.

Overall the run streak has been an enjoyable experience and most likely will continue beyond 30 days. My routine of running every morning is a habit I would like to continue.

Photos from a 30 day run streak

 

Things to do when transitioning to barefoot running

 

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In a recent post I listed the reasons why you should be barefoot running, however how do you transition? The main barefoot running transition question people as is how long will is take? This is different for everyone and may take as little as a couple of months or much longer. In order to give yourself the best chance of transitioning successfully and without injury the following tips may help.

If you take the time to transition correctly and build the strength and mobility needed to barefoot run long term you will reap the benefits down the track.

Be Patient

If you are an accomplished runner and have decided to transition to a flatter more minimal shoe or to barefoot running then it is difficult to stomach that you may only be able to run for very short periods for the first weeks or months. Patience is essential to avoid injury. For the first few weeks you should be combining walking and running either barefoot or in minimal shoes and running for no longer then 10 minutes working up to 30 minutes at a timely the end of the first month.  This will require patience and humility if you are used to running for much further.

Be ‘barefoot’ in everyday life

Increasing the time you walk barefoot will assist in building strength in your lower limbs and feet that are essential for barefoot running. Look to purchase some minimal shoes for work or casual life and try and be barefoot when at home. This will increase your mobility of the muscles that need to be retrained in order for injury free barefoot running.

Concentrate on your form

While you are transitioning to barefoot running concentrate on your form. Concentrate on landing on the balls of your feet, stay upright, don’t over stride and stay light on your feet. This will make sure you use the muscles associated with barefoot running and give them the best chance to gain mobility and strength.

You may choose to continue to run some mileage in your ‘old’ cushioned running shoes, especially if you are a seasoned runner. This is perfectly fine however make sure you concentrate on your form even in your cushioned shoes and retrain the body to run on your forefeet.

Listen to your feet

When you start running barefoot or in minimal shoes it is essential you look for the signs that you are overdoing it. It is normal to experience a small amount of pain in the calves, achilles and feet however too much and you may need to reduce the mileage and take longer to transition. This is a key sign of taking the time necessary to transition successfully and avoiding injury. Be prepared to have a long term view if the pain is experienced.

 

Use these simple tips and ask for advice if things don’t go to plan. Every runners barefoot transition is different and will therefore the process for each runner may be different.

If you have successfully transitioned to barefoot running  how did you do it?

What obstacles did you need to overcome, and how did you do it?

 

 

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The road is a long one, be patient

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The top 4 reasons you should be barefoot running

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While barefoot running has faded somewhat from the mass media attention it was receiving a few years ago there are still some very valid reasons why you should be running barefoot.

By barefoot running we mean running without shoes or in minimal footwear. By minimal footwear we mean shoes with the following attributes. Low heel to toe differential or heel drop, wide toe box and less cushioning and flexible materials. There are many different minimal footwear options available today.

Transitioning to barefoot running takes time. If you try to rush the process, you may suffer injuries in the calves or achilles. Be sure not to rush the process, it may take months or even years. Once your transition is complete your running will benefit.

The four top reasons you should be barefoot running are;

  1. Reduced injuries

Once you have transitioned to barefoot running you will likely run lighter, with a forefoot landing over a bent knee. This will ensure that you suffer less lower limb related injuries related to running. While barefoot running is not a panacea to injury free running it will go a long way to helping you run consistently more without injuries. Cushioned shoes won’t stop you getting injured, most likely they are the cause.

     2. Stronger feet

Running in an inflexible, cushioned shoe will inhibit the natural movement of your foot. The shoe does the work which the foot is designed to do, this will weaken your feet over time. Running barefoot or in flatter, more flexible footwear will build strength in your feet and lower limbs.  With strong feet comes a strong platform to run successfully and run injury free.

    3 Better awareness

” The more minimal you are the more aware you are” Chris McDougall

With more awareness comes better ground feel. While running you will become more aware of your posture,  foot landing, surroundings and effort. More awareness of your foot landing means you will be aware of every step and how and what you land on. This is a key reason why accomplished barefoot runners can run injury free as their awareness for where their foot lands is greater. Simply put running barefoot allows for more sensory feedback which increases awareness.

    4. Get faster

Forefoot running is faster than heel striking, pretty simple. Landing on your heel with a straight leg gives a braking effect, landing on your forefoot with a bent leg is faster and a more efficient way to run. If you want to get faster barefoot running can help you achieve this.

Transitioning to barefoot running is important, be patient and don’t rush the process however slow it may be. Once you successfully transition you will be free of heavy, inflexible running shoes and your running will become transformed.

If you wear traditional cushioned running shoes and have suffered injuries, it’s time to rethink your running footwear. Taking them off or replacing them with minimal shoes could be the answer.

 

 

 

 

My divorce with pace – Day 4

Earlier this week I committed to a month of running where I divorced myself from pace. Or at least committed to not monitoring pace during my runs. My watch has been set to a single data only of time to measure to monitor the length of my runs only.

Being overly reliant on technology is an easy trap to make for the modern runner and a trap that I have fallen into at times. My goal for this month of running is to enjoy my running and divorce myself from needing technology to measure my pace on any runs.

When I started running there weren’t GPS watches, I measured my runs simply on feel and perceived effort. I was still able to train and race as well as I do today without technology. My goal is to get back to this level of feel before I start training for another race so that I am ready to train without the burden of technology. Technology will be used to analyse my effort post run.

I guess you could call this the next step in my minimalist running transition. The transition to minimal footwear has enlightened my running and I believe a minimalist approach to technology will do the same.

During these four days of running all my runs have been easy aerobic runs. I have resisted looking at pace or any other metrics during these runs. I have also resisted pushing the pace on these runs and ensured the pace was easy.

What have I noticed in four runs?

  1. I’ve looked at my watch a whole lot less

2.  There is scenery around me everywhere

3. The mind works better with less distractions

So far the divorce from pace has been a positive experience. Looking beyond the next month where the pace will remain aerobic, I aim to continue this approach to when I resume with my three keys weekly runs being the long run, intervals and hill repeats during my next race preparations.

Just some of the scenery I was able to take in during my last four runs.

 

How to run a 1 second parkrun PB

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U a recovery week following my recent marathon I decided this week g get my running routine back to some normality and decided this weeks training end to test myself at parkrun on Saturday (today) and back to a longer run Sunday. I also decided to visit my neighbouring town  about 20 minutes drive away, Wauchope for their park run as I have only been there once and enjoy the course. The course is a nice two lap course, with one lap shorter than the other along the river which is relatively flat apart from one hill which you run once on each lap.

My previous effort there was a 17:37, which at the time I was surprised and happy to be able to run on this course. My goal for this visit was to run hard and test my fitness, run consistent from start to finish and see what happens. All my fastest parkrun times have come when my splits are consistent. I am a firm believer in this strategy for races of every distance.

Whenever I race, I break my race into thirds. Beginning, middle and end. In the beginning I try to be patient, in the middle I try to be disciplined and in the end I try to give my best effort. I use this strategy to keep my running consistent, however even though you want the splits to be the same the effort levels will change through the race.

Today, I was able to beat my previous time on this course by one second and run 17:36. My kilometre splits  were 3:31, 3:35, 3:31, 3:40 & 3:28 for an average pace of 3:33 min/km for the 5km.Happy to keep my pacing relatively consistent today. The fourth kilometre is a tough one on this course with two hairpin turns and the hill to contend with I lost a little bit of time here. Running felt good today though, I was patient enough to be able to control my running in the first kilometre, use some disciplined pacing in the middle of the race and gave my best effort and pushed hard near the end.

Overall a good  way to start my running this weekend. Looking forward to getting back out to this parkrun again soon. It’s been an enjoyable run both times I’ve run here.

 

Running without racing.

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Last Sunday’s marathon was the culmination of training towards a goal race and despite the challenges that unfolded during the race I am happy with my overall effort. This race was the culmination of 14 weeks training which is my normal plan for a marathon or longer race.

Last Sunday’s marathon was also likely the culmination of my racing year, with not many races left before the end of the year and certainly very few close to home. This means it’s time to switch gears with my training and enjoy my running with less focussed training towards trying to peak for a race. At times not having a race to train for has been a time when my running has suffered. I have struggled with the lack of focus and specificity and too much ice cream and skipped runs.

These days I have running without racing plans which keep me running regularly and enjoying my running without the pressure and challenge of a race in the not too distance future. This plan starts with continuing to run a similar amount of times per week and using variety in my running to keep focussed.

During October I plan to continue with my three key workouts each week, these are hill repeats, intervals and the long run however each will have far less focus. Hills will likely be similar, intervals shorter with more recovery and the long run shorter and not building time each week. Continuing to focus on these runs will keep my fitness ready for when my next race preparation starts. In addition to these will see some varying terrain and locations to keep my running interesting. to add variety I like using a weighted vest for some short runs, or efforts during runs. Skipping an aerobic run for a weighted vest hike is another option for easy days.

Adding variety can also be done by changing up footwear. As the weather gets warmer I like to use my favourite running location, the beach for some barefoot intervals and aerobic runs. GladSoles Sandals will still be my go to footwear for most of my runs though. And I will use my Carson footwear trail shoes for when I want some variety. These are the best shoes I’ve run in without socks, which is great for the beach and when the weather is hot.

The main focus while I’m running without racing is enjoy my running, add variety that isn’t achieved when training for a race and relax without the pressure of training hard.

Summer in Australia it’s certainly the best time to be outdoors enjoying the place we live. It’s a great time for relaxed running and enjoying the surrounds. I’m looking forward to running without the need for racing for the next few months, and enjoying my running.

 

Is six days without running during a marathon taper a bad thing?

 

 

Time will soon tell if six days without running in the week leading up to a race is a bad thing or not, but so far it doesn’t feel like it play a major role in the marathon I am running on Sunday. The week has been pretty relaxed so far and haven’t really had the race in the front of my thoughts just yet. Have been focussed on trying to get some good sleep and resting my foot, albeit with the normal demands of work, study and family life.

The good news is I haven’t eaten ice cream every night this week as I put my feet up and haven’t put on any weight. Resting has meant I will be very fresh for the race on Sunday but possibly slightly under done. Six days off running hasn’t sapped my confidence, still feel I’ve done the long training beforehand to put me in a good position as the race unfolds.

Six days off running has let my troublesome foot heal, there is now no pain in the foot. This is important for confidence as much as anything. I never really felt like the foot was going to stop me running or hinder the race in any way but decided to play it safe and minimise the risk of going into long race with pain. Marathons a tough enough without having other problems to hinder your race.

Overall I don’t think six days off running will have any effect on my race, it won’t be an excuse if the distance and terrain win the day. Looking forward to having a small run tomorrow morning and testing the foot and sharpening myself up before Sunday.

Weather forecast is for hot weather here on Sunday with a maximum of 33C/90F. This could cause problems for everyone as the race is scheduled just after the end of winter and certainly all of my running for this race has been in cooler weather. Heat also brings the snakes into play on the trails as they love to come out when the heat comes out. No point in worrying about the uncontrollables though.

Looking forward to the challenge on Sunday.

Photos are all from on the course of the Beach to Brother Marathon

Marathon training week 14 – Race week

 

Marathon training this week hasn’t quite gone to plan with my foot ‘injury’ coming at a time when I wanted to put in a couple more quality session before the race next Sunday. Only managing two runs this week, one of which was my interval session on Tuesday which I traded hills for intervals just because I felt like running fast when I woke up. This run went well, I felt strong and fast throughout and put down some solid work. I had planned to run the hills session on Thursday as straight swap but it didn’t eventuate. Friday I ran a 30 min aerobic run to test out the foot and it felt pretty good.

The foot however was sore after my aerobic run and is still sore enough today to give me a small amount of concern. This week I go into the week with no plan of when I will run, I am going to see how the foot feels and if it is still sore later in the week then I may not run until the race itself. At the moment it’s only a small amount of pain but after both my runs last week the pain was quite a bit worse.

Normally on race week I’d like a couple of aerobic runs to keep the legs moving and short interval session to keep myself sharp. This taper will be different and I may be susceptible to an increase in taper tantrums.

If I don’t run until the race I am not terribly concerned, I am happy with the amount of long training I have been able to do during this preparation and whilst I don’t feel as fit any ready as my last marathon in Seoul earlier this year I feel good enough to give my best and push myself.

This week will now be about rest, if the foot doesn’t have any pain I will run later in the week and sharpen myself up a bit. If it does have pain I’ll rest and see what happens on race day.

Either way I will be fresh and ready to go for the race next Sunday.

Marathon training this week hasn’t quite gone to plan this week with my foot ‘injury’ coming at a time when I wanted to put in a couple more quality session before the race next Sunday. Only managing two runs this week. One being an interval session on Tuesday when I traded hills for intervals just because I felt like running fast when I woke up. This run went well, I felt strong and fast throughout and put down some solid work. I had planned to run the hills session on Thursday as straight swap but it didn’t eventuate. Friday I ran a 30 min aerobic run to test out the foot and it felt pretty good.

The foot however was sore after my aerobic run and is still sore enough today to give me a small amount of concern. This week I go into the week with no plan of when I will run, I am going to see how the foot feels and if it is still sore later in the week then I may not run until the race itself. At the moment it’s only a small amount of pain but after both my runs last week the pain was quite a bit worse.

Normally on race week I’d like a couple of aerobic runs to

Marathon training this week hasn’t quite gone to plan with my foot ‘injury’ coming at a time when I wanted to put in a couple more quality session before the race next Sunday. Only managing two runs this week, one of which was my interval session on Tuesday which I traded hills for intervals just because I felt like running fast when I woke up. This run went well, I felt strong and fast throughout and put down some solid work. I had planned to run the hills session on Thursday as straight swap but it didn’t eventuate. Friday I ran a 30 min aerobic run to test out the foot and it felt pretty good.

The foot however was sore after my aerobic run and is still sore enough today to give me a small amount of concern. This week I go into the week with no plan of when I will run, I am going to see how the foot feels and if it is still sore later in the week then I may not run until the race itself. At the moment it’s only a small amount of pain but after both my runs last week the pain was quite a bit worse.

Normally on race week I’d like a couple of aerobic runs to keep the legs moving and short interval session to keep myself sharp. This taper will be different and I may be susceptible to an increase in taper tantrums.

If I don’t run until the race I am not terribly concerned, I am happy with the amount of long training I have been able to do during this preparation and whilst I don’t feel as fit any ready as my last marathon in Seoul earlier this year I feel good enough to give my best and push myself.

This week will now be about rest, if the foot doesn’t have any pain I will run later in the week and sharpen myself up a bit. If it does have pain I’ll rest and see what happens on race day.

Either way I will be fresh and ready to go for the race next Sunday.

keep the legs moving and short interval session to keep myself sharp. This taper will be different and I may be susceptible to an increase in taper tantrums.

If I don’t run until the race I am not terribly concerned, I am happy with the amount of long training I have been able to do during this preparation and whilst I don’t feel as fit any ready as my last marathon in Seoul earlier this year I feel good enough to be able to give my best and push myself.

This week will now be about rest, if the foot doesn’t have any pain I will run later in the week and sharpen myself up a bit. If it does have pain I’ll rest and see what happens on race day.

Either way I will be fresh and ready to go for the race next Sunday.

 

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North Brother Mountain – The finish of Beach to Brother marathon is atop here next week

Marathon training week 13

Just two weeks till marathon race day now and the training is almost complete. Week 12 went almost to plan with a hiccup on Thursday when I missed my interval  because I woke with a bad headache and chose not to run. Due to this I added aerobic run on Friday and used Thursday as a rest day. Other than that the key sessions went well, hills on Tuesday felt horrible during my run with my legs feeling heavy and I was unable to get myself feeling good on the uphill sections. Once I got home and looked at the hill segment data I was surprised that the my two hill repeats were my 3rd and 4th fastest of the 37 times I’ve run this hill. This was encouraging that i was still able to run quite well when not feeling fantastic.

Saturday i ran my marathon specific 3 x 1 hour efforts with 20 min rest between each effort. I started very early and ran my the first section on the road hitting my goal pace of 4:15 min/km for this hour. Second hour I ran over some undulating trail and beach sections which is part of the marathon I am running. Felt good throughout this hour and was able to hit a strong 4:45 min/km for this set. Third hour saw the tide rising and the sand becoming softer so I decided to run the first half on the road before hitting the beach and trails for the second half, I was able to hit my goal pace on the road but the soft sand made it tough going on the beach and on some hilly trail sections I wasn’t able to hold the pace I was hoping for. Overall this run went almost to plan and I feel confident going into the marathon that I have the endurance needed.

Week 13, and I’ll begin a taper on Friday giving me 10 days to refresh before the marathon.

Monday – Rest

Tuesday – Hill repeats

Wednesday –  Aerobic 40 min

Thursday – Intervals (15 x 2 min 1 min recovery)

Friday – Aerobic 30 min

Saturday – Rest

Sunday – Aerobic 60 min

Looking forward to getting through this week and then putting my feet up in the following week.

Hope you enjoy your running this week.

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It wasn’t me the taper tantrums made me do it

There comes a time in a runners journey to their goal race when the hard training is over and the athlete gets to ease up on the miles, sit up and relax and enjoy the time before the hard work gets tested on the race course. This should be a joyous experience as the athlete waits with anticipation for race day.

So why isn’t it a joyous experience for many, surely a runner can handle a week or two of lower miles, less hard work intersperced with extra days off here and there. The taper can can bring out the worst in people and when this happens and the taper tantrums  start beware if your a non running family member or significant other.

A taper tantrum can be described as, an episode or series of out of body experience where the runner is overtaken by fits of nerves, excitement and anticipation that leave the body in a non linear way that is uncontrollable. These episodes are completely normal for a runner in the taper phase of a race preparation and should be ignored by family members and not taken personally.

One of the reasons runners struggle with the taper period is nerves, if a runner doesn’t run it gives them more time to think about the race and what makes them nervous. This can be increased if the runner is attempting a distance for the first time.

Another reason is anticipation, all the hard work is done and you just want to race. Sitting around waiting for the race to arrive is boring. Gives the runner way too much time to time and rethink race planning. Where will I park? Will it be cold on race morning? How long before I need to leave the house or hotel and make it to the start line?

Another reason is usually apparent with inexperienced runners who think they will lose fitness by stopping running. The truth is you won’t so stop worrying.

The fact is the taper is valuable and the runner should limit the taper tantrums to get the value from the taper period. The uncontrollables can’t be controlled, worrying won’t get you a better park or stop it raining. Nerves will happen for most people taking on a big goal, these are natural and embraced rather then feared.

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My taper phase begins next week and I have decided for this upcoming marathon to go with a 10 day taper. For this marathon I aim to continue training up until Thursday of next week and then relax over the weekend and the last week. I aim to complete two of my normal three key sessions next week being hill repeats and intervals and forgo the long run for obvious reasons.

Tapering for 10 days isn’t big concern, as a runner who takes plenty of rest days I won’t worry me to have a few more. I don’t have to travel to the race as it’s in my home town only a few minutes drive from my home. With all that said it should be a relatively comfortable taper for both myself and my family.

Good luck in your next goal race. Keep the taper tantrums short and few and far between.

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